OPA and The Jersey Boyz
There is probably no single race more famous than The Benihana Offshore Grand Prix. This race was known as the Indy 500 of Offshore Racing and was held in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ, during the 1970's. The New Jersey Offshore Powerboat Racing Association has been the host club since racing started in Point Pleasant Beach some 40+ years ago. NJ Offshore (NJOPRA) is still a very active club with over 100 members and has kept the tradition of Offshore Racing alive on the Jersey Shore for all those years.
Over the years, the name of the Point Pleasant Beach race has been changed each time a new sponsor was obtained. It's been called: The Hennessey Offshore Grand Prix, The Benihana Offshore Grand Prix, The Ray Catena Offshore Grand Prix, The New Jersey Offshore Grand Prix, The War at the Shore, the Jenkinson's Offshore Grand Prix and the year of 2005 it was called The Jersey Boyz Offshore Grand Prix.
During the years, the racecourse has gotten smaller and shorter. In the Benihana days, the race was over 200 miles long running laps from NY's Fire Island to Seaside Heights NJ. One lap was about 80 miles. For the spectators, and there were many, the boats came by once an hour and only three or four times depending upon the race course configurations. Today the racecourse is a small 4 mile oval as close to the beach as possible. Since the beach drops off quickly, the boats usually run within 150 feet of the surf. Even the outside leg can be clearly seen from the shoreline.
The NJ race has also seen its share of sanction flags. Originally, the race was the premier APBA National Offshore Race. This race ran on the third Wednesday of the month of July like clockwork. People would book their vacations around race week, as it was always a source of excitement. Back in 1975 a fast boat in NJ was a 21' Searay with a 188 Merc I/O. So when the big boats came to town, it was quite a show.
Ed "Smitty" Smith has taken over the reigns at OPA and together with Augie "The Godfather" Pensa, President of the Jersey Boyz Offshore Racing Crews, NJOPRA and the Twisted Sisters, they will bring back the days of the old Benihana. Welcoming racers from all over the country to come and experience what it's like to race the waters of the Atlantic Ocean off the New Jersey Shore.
The OPA series started as three race series (Brick, Seaside & Point Pleasant, NJ). This year, OPA series will host a six race series & a World Championship: Atlantic City, NJ, St Clair & Port Huron, MI, Sayville, NY, Solomons, MD & Orange Beach, AL. We look forward to the many new faces coming to race with us this year.
In order to bring more racers out a few things needed to happen. First, racers had to know they could count on the races to happen without cancellation. OPA had already demonstrated this. Second the race series needed to expand to more than four races and finally, something had to be done to draw the race boats out of retirement. With a lot of work and the help of some friends, "Smitty" and "The Godfather of Offshore Racing" have pulled out all the stops to raise purse for each class, giving race teams the incentive to COME OUT AND PLAY! As the calendar is now full with races every few weeks spanning the country from New York to Maryland to the Great Lakes.
The Boyz have already heard some criticism about the bats and gun in the logo as some people take this as a thug mentality. They prefer to see it as a way to say they represent no holds barred racing...NJ style. In today's world of watered down, politically correct, make sure not to offend anyone middle of the road society its refreshing to see these guys stick it out for all to see. OPA sees it as entertainment, the same way HBO sees the Sopranos. After all what these guys are really about is having fun at the races. Isn't that what is should be all about?
Finally, the Jersey Boyz, which have now become synonymous with OPA are working to move beyond the politics of the sport and are encouraging their members to enjoy running in a few SBI races. Look for the Jersey Boyz in the Great Lakes and in Florida throughout the summer of 2011. Just look for the guys with the Joisey accent walking away with the checked flags.
So who are the Jersey Boyz? Just some regular racers with a burning desire to bring racing in the Northeast back to its former glory.
If you're interested in joining OPA and The Jersey Boyz Offshore Racing Crews, contact
Ed "Smitty" Smith at 732-920-3945 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or contact Augie "The Godfather" Pensa by e-mail at PensaMover@aol.com.
Come and be a part of our Race Family...............
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